Using tapping data to study listeners’ perception of rhythmic structures

Author: Poudrier, Ève, Fidali, B. C., Repp, B. H.

Publication details: Joint Conference of the American Musicological Society (AMS), Society for Music Theory (SMT), and Society for Ethnomusicology (SEM), New Orleans (LA), 3 November 2012


Abstract: Typically, is explored through sensorimotor synchronization tasks tap along auditory sequences that are manipulated to allow for the statistical analysis of factors that have a significant impact on participants’ tapping performance (Repp, 2005). More recently, neuroimaging studies have investigated metric perception by recording brain responses to imagined or simulated metric accents (e.g., Iversen, Repp, & Patel, 2009; Nozaradan, Peretz, Missal, & Mouraux, 2011). The first part of this demonstration will consist in a brief tutorial of how tapping data is collected and analyzed (e.g., Snyder & Krumhansl, 2001; Toiviainen & Snyder, 2003). In the second part, the results of an experiment using an excerpt from Carter’s 90+ will serve as a case study to illustrate some of the ways tapping data can be used to explore musicians’ perception of rhythmic structures. Tapping variability and synchronization measures confirmed the influence of various factors on participants’ tapping performance, including accentuation. However, tapping contours revealed that the present of accents had a variegated effect on individual participants’ interpretation of the beat, thus providing valuable information on different modes of rhythmic processing. Furthermore, the mapping of participants’ synchronized taps on a two-level representation of the temporal structure also yielded several observations on how participants’ synchronization performance is influenced by surface details as well as underlying structure. Thus, by correlating tapping data with musical surface, music analysts can gain further insight into specific cues used by listeners to track the beat as well as uncover new avenues for research.